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tv   MSNBC Live  MSNBC  December 18, 2013 8:00am-9:01am PST

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good. >> that's, as you said, a two-year budget deal and everyone is very happy to be able to put two years between them and the next self-created fiscal crisis. one of the other things lindsey graham said yesterday is everyone is in a hurry to make sure that they're not going to shut the government down again so everyone is pleased about that. that said, we still have the debt ceiling looming coming up in the early spring and republicans are already sending signals that they're going to demand something from democrats and the administration in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. so it doesn't look like we're entirely out of this fiscal crisis after fiscal crisis woods yet. >> if we talk about specifically this bipartisan budget deal and the specific attention-getting item here is the cuts to military pensions. and that's really drawing fire from both democrats and republicans. i want to play for everybody -- >> we're in a big hurry around here to show you how functional
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we are. even when we're functional, we're dysfunctionsal. of all the people we could have picked on to screw, how could we have arrived here? how could we have done this? it seems to me that the average american would want to put these folks last. >> meanwhile, kasie, democrats are vowing to restore the military pension cuts. how likely is this to happen if both sides feel it is something that is distinctly wrong. isn't that an easy fix? >> this provision snuck up on some people a little bit. it passed very quick low in the house and this drew some attention late last week. senator karl levin did put out a statement saying they will fix it when the committee considers this issue. there's also a commission at the pentagon looking at this subject, how exactly to rein in personnel costs and how to deal with soaring retirement benefit costs. and the pentagon knows that they have to deal with that in some way. to a certain extent in the case of senator graham, he's facing
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primary challenges from the right so this is an issue he was able to seize on as a way to explain why he was voting against this budget deal. >> so the military retirees are getting screwed but as we look at who else is going to be getting screwed in all of this are the people that need unemployment benefits. because as we look at this, it does not extend the long-term unemployment benefits. they are scheduled to expire on the 28th of december for 1.3 million people. so what are the plans to address that issue? >> that's just three days after christmas, thomas, as you know, so it's going to be a difficult time for many americans who are relying on those benefits. senate majority leader harry reid has promised that he's going to deal with unemployment insurance when the senate returns in january. he thinks or he's said that he thinks the politics are there, it's going to be very difficult for republicans to oppose extending unemployment insurance, but as always there are some concerns about how to pay for that increase and some people on the right, like senator rand paul, have raised questions about whether or not
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it's a good idea to extend benefits for up to 99 weeks. so there's probably going -- you're probably going to see a fight over that come winter. >> so as we know, what we've seen from the house, they have wrapped up their business for the year. but as we talk about the senate and lindsey graham also in that statement yesterday where he went on to say that everybody is just trying to race out of town, what is on the senate's to do list? >> well, they're trying to cram a few last-minute things in here. we've got a defense authorization bill that's set to come up today for a cloture vote and that will deal with -- it will authorize the defense department funding for next year. it will change a little bit the way we handle detainees at guantanamo, make some changes to sexual assault in the military, although it doesn't include senator kirsten gillibrand's amendment that would take sexual assaults out of the chain of command. the senate has to deal with a number of nominations. they have said they want to finish those by the end of the week, including janet yellin to
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chair the federal reserve. but senator rand paul is threatening to hold that up. they haven't done the farm bill, doesn't look like we'll get to that pr the new year. so lots still on the docket. >> kacie hunt on capitol hill for us. great to see you, thank you. >> thanks, thomas. i want to bring in democratic congressman dan kildee of michigan. sir, it's good to have you with me. you've called this bipartisan budget deal before the senate vote far from perfect. you voted for it last week in the house. so explain why it passed muster with you. >> well, there's a lot in this budget that i don't like. the fact that we balance the budget on the backs of military retirees and leave 1.3 million americans without unemployment compensation is a couple of reasons. but, look, the republicans have proven that they are willing to wreck the economy and shut down government when they have a chance to do so. so it felt to many of us that while this is far from perfect, we will live to fight another day, but we can't continue to
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lurch from crisis to crisis, quarter to quarter, with uncertainty. and as much as we found it distasteful, we were willing to accept the short-term deal and live to fight another day. i think senator levin is absolutely correct. they will bring up the military retiree question again and we will pursue that and we need to fix it. but there is a lot that needs to be fixed in this budget. it's not an ideal budget but it's something able to get us the stability we need and take away the threat of another government shutdown. >> let's talk about that because as you point out, unemployment benefits, one big caveat in all of this where there's a lot of concern but the other unpopular provision is cutting the inflation increase in pensions for our military retirees under the age of 62. on "morning joe" tim kaine in the senate said it was put in as a compromise with the house, but he and other democrats, they're promising to make this fix. do you see that as happening and happening quickly?
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>> i hope so. it's important for folks to answer the question if many of the republicans i know who oppose this, they have to ask themselves why did their come patriot, paul ryan, insist that that provision be included when we could have done so many other things. we could have looked at the billions upon billions of dollars that we spend in the tax code with great big breaks for oil companies and, you know, not having any tax fairness what e whatsoev whatsoever. there's lots of ways we could have done this. i think this argument will shine a light on the mixed up priorities that the republicans have and hopefully come january when we're all back we'll have this debate continue. and i think if we do, the battle of priorities and values will be pursued and the idea that we would balance the budget on the backs of retirees but not touch billions of dollars in tax breaks for oil companies will become much more clear. >> okay. so let's talk about what the priorities were and what paul
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ryan went into these meetings with patty murray for, because he gave a radio interview yesterday about how they were able to achieve this compromise. i want to play for everybody how he thinks the percentages went on who got the best deal. take a listen. >> they insisted on turning off all of the sequester and getting rid of it entirely. for the next year and a half, we keep 70% of the sequester. so they got 30% of what they wanted. i got 70% of what i wanted. no tax increases, no stimulus spending. no 13th extension of the unemployment provision. >> sir, he feels this was much more of a win situation for the republicans and certainly from his bargaining standpoint, but as we talk specifically about your state, there's some 43,000 people in michigan who stand to lose their unemployment benefits on the 28th. so will congress retroactively try to extend those benefits if democratic leaders get their way? we think about this, three days
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after christmas, this is a daunting future for people to face. >> well, we certainly should. the 1.3 million americans that are out looking for work are genuinely looking to try to find a way to not have to accept unemployment compensation in order to survive. we ought to have them as a high priority when we come back. you know, the thing that's really hard for me to accept is that paul ryan is running around trumpeting this deal as if it's a victory for somebody. it's a failure. all we did was prevent the republicans from wrecking the government by using the threat of a shutdown to extract even more cuts to our important and domestic investments that we need to make. so the idea that this would be something to celebrate i find objectionable. this was no victory. this was a way to stem the tied and make sure we can live to fight another day to try to get the priorities and the budget that we really need to pursue. i can't imagine anybody going on the radio or tv or anywhere else
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and celebrating this as some sort of a victory. it was a representation of the failure of congress as much as anything. >> congressman dan kildee of michigan, thank you for joining me. i appreciate it. >> thank you. coming up next, seeking justice in the affluenza case. first a judge gives a rich teen probation for a deadly driving accident. now the new efforts to put that teen behind bars. does texas have any legal options to pursue new charges? and the president appointed two gay athletes to the official u.s. olympic delegation. what message this move sends to russia, a country with very harsh anti-gay laws. and that brings us to today's big question for you. should president obama have refused to send a u.s. delegation to russia for the winter olympics, or was this a stroke of genius on his part by assembling this delegation? weigh in on facebook or twitter. we'll get your thoughts on the air.
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there are just some things that even today are just too difficult to talk about. and at this point we're trying to take life one day at a time. >> how is he going to be free to walk, you know, and not even one night in jail in county, you know, but yet my brother has got a life sentence. >> that was eric boyles and alexander lemus reacting to the sentence handed down to the 16-year-old who killed four while driving drunk in june. the story has garnered nationwide outrage and attention. democrat wendy davis and republican attorney general greg abbott trying to figure out how a wealthy teen was able to use a
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defense called affluenza to avoid jail time. the district attorney is now asking a juvenile judge to put the 16-year-old behind bars on two cases of intoxication assault, charges that he says are still pending before the court. paul henderson is a veteran prosecutor and deputy chief of staff for the city of san francisco and joins me now. paul, it's good to have you here. obviously this case has captured the attention of the public to see this young man, a wealthy kid, technically prove his way out of this or try to get out of this because he says he just had too much money at his disposal. but on top of the d.a.'s aggressive push to put ethan couch behind bars, one of the victim's families is suing the couch family for $20 million. the legal battle is far from over in all of this, but you have the psychologist cog the affluenza junk science. how are people, paul, in the legal community looking at this? >> i think when you hear a defense like that, it's such a
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false argument that involves failed logic. and so making a presentation like this as if this is a valid defense is what's insulting to people and what prosecutors are reacting to. the very fact that his argument is that he's not used to being held accountable, well, that's not an excuse. and what the criminal justice system is designed to do is to hold individuals accountable for transgressions, particularly when they involve other members of society, which is exactly what we have here. and so it is not a defense to say i'm not used to being held accountable. i didn't understand what real punishment was. and in this case in particular, in addition to the heinous facts and circumstances associated with this case, we have previous incidents where this kid was involved with law enforcement in the past that indicate that there were signs and indications that there should have been or could have been interventions beforehand either with the
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criminal justice system or with the parents themselves and this child. so that's what you see people reacting to. it just feels like it's fair that there's not a higher level of accountability for a case like this. >> so you think four people lose their drives in this drunk driving accident with a 16-year-old. obviously this kid did not have the best rearing in terms of knowing boundaries and responsibilities and the privileges that were ahead of him. but as we look at the socioeconomic aspects of all of this, the grio's goldie taylor wrote about this using the example of a poor black teen convicted of fatally shooting a man. clearly two different stories. but how does the public, particularly those on the lower rung of the economic ladder in our country, look at this and how does it rock the faith of our justice system when people look at this and just think, well, this kid bought his way out or his parents bought the kid's freedom. >> people have an expectation
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that the criminal justice system is going to be fair, so this case raises the issues of a popular topic right now which is the income inequality. and you have to ask the question in a case like this would another defendant that would be otherwise situated have the same opportunities that this kid had. would they have the opportunity to pay $450,000 a year to participate in the program that this kid is being sent to, you know, where they have horses and hikes in the woods and i think the answer that most people are coming up with is no. and then that raises the issue of how is this fair for this defendant under these circumstances, and would those same circumstances apply if this were an urban area or a different kind of kid. and one of the things that i think people are dancing around but it raises the issue about race and inequality. and i think this is more of a socioeconomic conversation, but you cannot separate the race conversation from the socioeconomics when we're
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talking about costs for a program like this and a sentence where people feel like it's not just there was a serious accident, people are dead. people will not have their lives and families have severe losses, and so they're looking to the criminal justice system for a higher level of accountability that just doesn't feel fair under these circumstances. >> paul, as we look at the justice system, though, and we can't criminalize this family, the couch family because they're rich. >> correct. >> obviously that's not anything to be guilty of in this countrc, we should all be afforded the best defense that we can afford and some people have more money that they can invest in this than other people do. the couch family not only had the legal resources or financial resources for good legal representation, they also then used, his attorney did, this affluenza defense and was able to capitalize on that. but do you think that the state of texas, because of the
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outpouring, the reaction that has come to this, do you think that they'll be able to channel other charges through this intoxication assault avenue? >> well, if the other charges are still pending, and keep in mind that the prosecutor is the one that makes the determination as to how someone is charged and what gets charged. so even in the very beginning of this case, they were the ones that determined whether or not this was an individual that could be charged as an adult, whether or not this was gross negligence because of the facts and circumstances associated with this case, and so the fact that there are still pending charges associated with this case and this set of facts and circumstances is going to be an issue, and obviously that's what everyone is rallying around, trying to determine. are there other things in the pipeline that prosecutors have prepared to increase what the accountability is for this individual. and i think that's the issue right now that we're all waiting to see. there's been some discussion about federal charges.
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you know, i think it's a really difficult thing to do with one set of circumstances and one set of facts to take those facts and circumstances and then reinterpret them in these other forms to try and have an increased accountability. it's something that doesn't take place very often. so, you know, i'm not sure how moving forward we're going to see the possibility of an increased sentence or a separate sentence from the same facts and circumstances, but certainly that's the discussion right now and that's what you're hearing, not just from politicians but from prosecutors and from the federal government as well, that they are trying to move in that direction. at the very least they're evaluating what that possibility could be for this situation. >> veteran prosecutor paul henderson. thanks for joining me, i appreciate it. >> thanks for having me. coming up, the battleground. new polling showing iowa voters prefer chris christie over hillary clinton, but how seriously should hillary clinton consider the chris christie
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threat? and we have winners, two lucky ticket holders are now mega rich. we're going to go live to where one of those winning mega millions tickets was sold next. ya know, with new fedex one rate you can fill that box and pay one flat rate. i didn't know the coal thing was real. it's very real... david rivera. rivera, david. [ male announcer ] fedex one rate. simple, flat rate shipping with the reliability of fedex.
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mom swaps my snack for a piña colada yoplait. and when mom said i was going out too much, i swapped it for staying in. [ shouts ] guess who's going out tomorrow. [ female announcer ] swap one snack a week for a yoplait. it is so good. there are two winning tickets in last night's $636 million mega millions drawing. one of them was sold in this gift shop in san jose, california. and the owner was so excited when he heard the news, he rushed back to the store from home. >> i feel good! feel good! come to my store! i feel good. i don't even know can i sleep tonight. >> all right, well that store owner gets a million dollars for selling that winning ticket. and the other winning ticket, that was sold at a newsstand in atlanta, and that's where we find nbc's gabe gutierrez. so, gabe, you were eating dinner, i understand, just a few blocks away last night.
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it is not you, obviously, because you are at work. so you don't have the winning ticket, do you? >> reporter: yeah, thomas, unfortunately it is not me, but the high rise office building behind me, they're buzzing because someone there bought the winning ticket yesterday. we spoke with the store clerk, korean immigrant, who had been here, been at that store for nine years. she is just thrilled about this. and the office building houses -- this is a very upscale part of atlanta, the buckhead neighborhood. this particular office building has a law firm, a bank and a global consulting firm. right now the big question is who won this jackpot. the store clerk says that it could possibly be an office pool. she sold several tickets yesterday, several sales to players that pooled their money together. one of the purchases was about 120 tickets. this morning we spoke with several workers who did not win. >> i think it's fantastic. this retailer is a wonderful
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retailer. and she is fantastic. she sells tickets every day with a smile, so i love that someone bought a ticket from her. >> reporter: now, an interesting point, there is some question about how much this particular retailer in georgia will get. that other owner, store owner in california will get a payout of $1 million. we just heard from the georgia lottery commission, a spokesperson for the corporation says that there is no retailer bonus in georgia, and instead retailers here get a flat 6% commission on sales. they also get a big promotional check for pr purposes that they can put up in the store. other than that, they just get the distinction of being the lucky store. so right now the store clerk, though, she's just glad to get all the attention as we wait for the winners to come forward. thomas, back to you. >> gabe, if i remember atlanta well, you're right by phipps and lenox mall, correct? there's an emeril's restaurant
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behind you? >> reporter: that's right. it's a very high-end part of town. so everybody is just really looking to see who won this, if it was an office pool, and when they will come forward. they have 180 days to do so and there's no guarantee they'll talk to anybody. the georgia lottery commission does have to give up their name. >> thank you, sir. here's a look at other stories topping the news. authorities are trying to figure out what prompted a gunman to open fire inside a hospital in reno, nevada, yesterday. the attacker killed himself and another person. two others are in critical condition. the harvard student charged with making a bomb threat in order to get out of taking a final is scheduled to be in court today. he allegedly sent e-mails warning that there were bombs in four buildings on campus. they were evacuated for several hours on monday. astronauts aboard the international space station may have to spend part of their christmas holiday walking in space. nasa has ordered a series of space walks to fix a broken cooling line.
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the repairs may stretch right into christmas day. new york has a new hero, he's a guide dog named orlando. look at that sweet face. he jumped to rescue -- jumped to the rescue yesterday when his blind owner passed out, falling onto subway tracks in upper manhattan. orlando jumped after him, barking for help. both the man and the dog wound up between the rails as the oncoming train passed over them. the dog is fine. william suffered only minor injuries. paul mccartney can afford to buy any shirt he wants but watch him try to catch a free t-shirt when it's thrown to the crowd at monday's nets game in brooklyn. he lunges forward with the same gus toe any fan looks and he looks as disappointed as anyone would when he didn't get it.
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tdd#: 1-888-852-2134 there are trading opportunit life with crohn's disease ois a daily game of "what if's". what if my abdominal pain and cramps end our night before it even starts? what if i eat the wrong thing? what if? what if i suddenly have to go? what if? but what if the most important question is the one you're not asking? what if the underlying cause of your symptoms is damaging inflammation? for help getting the answers you need, talk to your doctor and visit crohnsandcolitisadvocates.com to connect with a patient advocate from abbvie for one-to-one support and education. president obama has named two openly gay athletes to his u.s. delegation to head to
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russia for the winter olympics, tennis legend billie jean king and ice hockey silver medallist caitlin cahow will both be headed to sochi in february as part of the delegation. but president obama himself will not we traveling to russia and neither will the first lady, the vice president or any current cabinet member. leading the delegation will be former homeland security security janet napolitano. "usa today" says the white house delivered a strong message of opposition to russia's anti-gay laws with this announcement. joining me is human rights first advocacy council, shawn gaylord. we just talked about this on monday so big developments by midweek. let's talk about your reaction to this because i know that your group was instrumental in providing this idea and now here it is, it's come to fruition. >> sure, yeah. we were thrilled to hear the news. i would say we were thrilled but we were not surprised. the obama administration has shown incredible leadership on
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lbgt issues both domestically and internationally, so we always had a lot of confidence that this was the type of announcement we'd get, this was the type of delegation we'd see. >> i want to show you the cover of the "usa today" that i left upstairs on my desk. it has billie jean king, who is an equality ally, a strong female supporter, a great tennis legend, who happens to be gay. and now she's going to be going and leading the way. this is a huge compliment to any country that's going to get a delegation of world class athletes like this. but why is this threading the needle in such a brilliant political way, and the president is still sending a compliment by sending this delegation, but this is the first time in 14 years that a president or vice president or first lady is not going to be a part of this presidential delegation. >> right. well, i think the key thing for us was the inclusion of lbgt people. i think that was done intentionally. done to send a message of
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equality and respect. and i think this delegation will be able to show what it's like to be integrated into society, to be leadership leaders in society. i think that was his thinking behind adding the lgbt people. we also support the decision to not go himself or have the first lady or vice president go. we know other world leaders are taking similar action and we had urged the same. >> and we know that they are not going, the french president, the german president, so this follows on the heels of that, that they will not be there in russia. we have caitlin cahow telling the "usa today," quote, it's obviously a statement that's being made but i think it's an incredibly respectful one. basically the white house is highlighting americans who know what it means to have freedoms and liberties under the constitution. do you expect or would you encourage members of this delegation, like caitlin or billie jean king, to speak out against the propaganda laws in russia while they're on russian soil, while they have the
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attention of the world? >> i think there are ways to do that. i think their number one job is to be there to represent the united states and support the athletes. but within that context, i still think there will be ways for them to send a message around nondiscrimination. human rights plus the principal six campaign. principal six being part of the olympics own charter. to us that seems like a safe way to express support and not violate the anti-propaganda law. nobody really understands the parameters of that law just yet, but certainly wearing a t-shirt that talks about the principles of the olympic charter should not be seen as propaganda. >> you know, oddly enough on monday i got a lot of pushback when i said the president was being described by certain people as the first gay president. >> right. >> obviously it was a policy reference to the fact that he has overseen the destruction of
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don't ask, don't tell. he's come out for marriage equality. obviously he's against russia's anti-gay propaganda laws. this sends a very strong message. but when we look at the international community rallying around this, do you think that the support is there to make a difference after the olympics? because that's when the attention goes away. >> right. i think that's a really -- that's a great question you're raising and i think a really key concern for us is what happens when the olympics are over. there's always a potential of some backlash against people working on the ground for lbgt equality. what we can do is just stay engaged with the russian lbgt community, but i do think it's a concern. >> shawn, thanks for being here. i appreciate it. >> thanks for having me. >> we'll continue to follow as this delegation heads over to russia. thank you, sir. so as we look at what's going on for 2016 and the road to 2016, hillary clinton's road just got a little bumpy. so how seriously should the presumptuous presidential
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candidate take a new poll showing her lagging behind possible republican candidate chris christie? and republican senator tom coburn calls out congress and federal agencies for wasteful spending, but how much of his annual waste book report was much ado about nothing? these are the topics for our agenda panel today, corey dade is a contributing editor for the root, sabrina siddiqui and michael tomaski. gang, we're physically all in the same space but we are separated by floors and a little studio distance. >> separate but equal, thomas. separate but equal. >> exactly. michael, let me start with you. the new iowa poll conducted by quinnipiac university shows chris christie with a five-point lead. so for those people in a hillary clinton presidential camp, presumably, should worriers in that camp look at this and question the strength of chris
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christie? >> yeah, i think this poll is something for hillary clinton partisans to worry about, thomas. it's not just a stand-alone number. i've seen other polls from purple states, colorado, ohio and so on that show christie competitive with her or ahead of her. there's a little paradox i can't quite put my finger on. she's the most admired woman in america for 17 of the last 20 years. she left the state department with an approval rating in the mid-70s. and yet as a potential presidential candidate, can't quite make the sale with independent voters, among whom christie led her in this poll. so she's got some work to do there with independent voters, despite her high personal standing. >> okay. so let's look at that specifically, corey, with the independents and the breakdown of this poll because it would suggest chris christie leading clinton by nine points in the independent area. we also see a pretty significant gender gap here. hillary clinton leading with women voters by nearly 20%.
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chris christie leading male voters by 12 points. so how concerned should both parties be about these numbers? and let's just remember who won iowa during the republican primary before. that was rick santorum. >> right. i think between the two parties, i think the democrats should be a little bit more worried about the fact that they are trailing or at least hillary was trailing by nine percentage points in this poll. that i think is a reverberation from the republicans' continued attacks on obamacare in particular. but i think, you know, as we go forward, you know, the more we learn about chris christie, as he continues to be vetted over the next year and some change by the media, by democrats, the more those poll numbers will start to fluctuate. he will start to slip a little bit at different points. he will start to go up. i think for republicans, they're not surprised that hillary has such a commanding lead among women and they would continue to try to close that gap over time.
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but let's remember this is iowa and this is where once upon a time michele bachmann was leading in the polls and she's the hometown girl. she was supposed to take iowa. so let's take it with a grain of salt for now. but these are really important indicators going forward. >> sabrina, let me ask you this, because moderate republicans would look at this and be excited because someone like chris christie can resonate in iowa, where michele bachmann led the way, where rick santorum ultimately beat mitt romney there. so that has to be encouraging to people that want to see a rebranding and a face that can lead that for the gop. >> it is encouraging for moderate republicans who want to see chris christie as the nominee. you have probably about ten potential candidates in the gop field, and chris christie faces similar challenges compared to those faced by mitt romney in 2012, in terms of winning over conservative the. conservatives would much rather see ted cruz, rand paul or marco rubio on the ticket. now, the reality is that poll
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after poll has shown that it's actually chris christie who poses the greatest threat to hillary clinton's candidacy and i think this certainly is just another indicator that he would be the most likely nominee and moderates will work i think with establishment republicans to try and make sure that chris christie is the nominee, because in reality, you might have someone like ted cruz or rand paul standing, you know, in the way up until the very end, but chris christie on a national level seems to be still the most electable gop candidate. >> all right, gang, i want to switch gears to senator coburn's new report. waste management or wasteful spending of nearly $30 million in washington, d.c. he's been compiling this annual report for five years or so. but among the examples that he lists are the popular romance project at a price tag of $914,000. $325,000 study by the nih looking at how a wife's reaction during conflict plays a role in happy marriages. okay. sabrina, what do you make of
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this report and how it, i guess, expands the debate of wasteful spending, deficit reduction as we lead into the debt ceiling? >> i think that tom coburn certainly gets credit for consistency. he's a small government guy. he puts out this report every year. he doesn't care if the spending is supported or has been put in place by democrats or republicans. he simply believes that it's wasteful and believes that there's a smarter way, of course, to put in place cuts versus, of course, sequestration, which is another piece that was talked about in the budget deal and has been at least some of the effects have been mitigated for the next two years. this actually also, i think, brings to bear the idea of meaningful deficit reduction and how committed both parties are to reducing the debt and the deficit. you don't see them going through the budget, combing through all of the spending and identifying where there might be in fact wasteful spending. i don't think that everything in coburn's report might be wasteful, especially with
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respect to some of the scientific studies. often you'll have the nih or the national science foundation defend those studies and say there's a lot to learn about aging, about disease like alzheimer's from these studies. but certainly, i think, again, tom coburn out again with his report gets points for once again highlighting that a lot of the members of congress who talked about deficit reduction, they don't actually follow up and really try to bring to bear wasteful spending. >> michael, what's your take? do you think that tom coburn gets credit for that? obviously sabrina says this money is invested, certainly some of it wisely. i think nasa spent $125,000 on a 3-d printer to make pizzas. which, you know, we have ovens that make pizzas. but does he get points for that? >> oh, i suppose. but, you know, what's $125,000, honestly? what's $30 million in the scheme of the federal budget? you know, it's something, but, you know, thomas, i think a lot of these studies probably when you really look into them,
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they're easy to make fun of on television, the titles of them, but i would imagine something important is learned in a lot of this research, and i think the government probably should fund research into what makes a happy marriage. i don't have difficulty with that. i don't think tom coburn -- i don't think republicans, conservatives should have an issue with that. >> can't put a price tag on a happy marriage, michael. you can't put a price tag on a happy marriage. >> the government does. >> corey, let me leave it with you. much ado about nothing or is this a great way to display areas of wasteful spending that americans need to know about? and as michael points out, some of these things do make sense but as we look at them collectively, they do leave us scratching our head for some. >> any research on marriages is money well spent as far as i'm concerned, thomas. but this is not necessarily wasteful spending because there are explanations behind a great deal of them. i think it just continues the conservative debate. it's one of the few bits of proof, quote unquote, proof that
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conservatives use to keep their base exercised and engaged and angry at government. >> gang, thanks so much, corey dade, sabrina siddiqui and michael tomasky. if i don't see you before, have a great holiday and merry christmas to you all. you can find out more at thomasroberts.msnbc.com. irements and protect financial futures. to help communities recover and rebuild. for companies going from garage to global. on the ground, in the air, even into space. we repaid every dollar america lent us. and gave america back a profit. we're here to keep our promises. to help you realize a better tomorrow. from the families of aig, happy holidays. she'd just grab the bounty select-a-size. one select-a-size sheet of bounty is 50% more absorbent
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without all the calories. wout of landfills each year? plastic waste to cover mt. rainier by using one less trash bag each month, we can. and glad forceflex bags stretch until they're full.* so you can take them out less often. so today we are beginning a series of reports on the top senate races to watch in 2014, and we kick things off with the senate showdown in texas. running for his third term is republican senator and minority whip john cornyn, who until last week had avoided a major primary challenger. that is until tea party conservative congressman steve stockman entered the race, just moments before the deadline. now, today a blow to the challenger as senator cornyn gets an endorsement from the nra. i want to bring in and say good morning to wayne slater, senior
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political writer for "the dallas morning news" and author of "bush's brain and the architect." wayne, it's great to have you here. as we look at senator stockman, he's trying to paint cornyn as a liberal. how does that change things a bit with that endorsement? >> it's big. stockman has a problem. he wants to round up the constituencies who were part of the ted cruz success in texas last year. basically rallying the tea party base against an establishment republican incumbent. that's what ted cruz did and he won. that's what stockman is trying to do. so when you have the nra or when you have in some cases other big money republican groups like club for growth, who aren't on his side, it clearly is a blow to his challenge. >> and a lot of people would look at people describing cornyn as not being gop enough as very funny. so we look at how this has been, i guess, taken apart in certain
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ways because there's a super pac with ties to senator cornyn that launched a shady stockman campaign, putting congressman stockman's ethics into question into question. so they really view him as a serious threat, at least somebody that can chip away, right? >> oh, you bet. cornyn and his allies are not taking this for granted. you're right. that super pac has already mounted this social media challenge. what they're seeing is something larger. that's what's going on across the country. i think that's part of what your series is about. not only do we have the right in texas, a long-shot challenger, but a tea party challenger trying to rally the base against the establishment incumbent. but you also see it in places like kentucky with mitch mcconnell, with thad cochran in mississippi or lindsey graham in south carolina. you have 12 republican seats up, and people like those around cornyn and the republican establishment see that there is
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a wave out there and they don't want to take the challenge for granted. so they want to do everything they can to reassure enough voters john cornyn is conservative, our guy has done well for the con stitch win sis and for the issues that you care about. >> all right. just want to show everybody, though, senator cornyn is up by 44 points on congressman stockman right now, at least in gop polling numbers that have gone out that was obtained by politico. we have three months to go until the primary. wayne slater, the dallas morning news, thank you, sir. tomorrow, a look at the kentucky senate race that wayne brought up there. we've got senate minority leader mitch mcconnell. could face a strong democratic challenger in secretary of state allison grimes. [ male announce] the new new york is open. open to innovation. open to ambition. open to bold ideas. that's why new york has a new plan -- dozens of tax free zones all across the state. move here, expand here, or start a new business here
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all right. so the man known for crashing a white house state dinner could soon crash the campaign trail. it's time for the side bar. former reality tv star posted on
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his twitter and facebook page he's running for congress in virginia. the news comes after republican congressman frank wolf announced his retirement. salahi is best known for showing up uninvited to a white house state dinner with his then-wife. last year he said he'd run for governor of virginia but didn't file his paperwork on time. so will he or won't he? netflix ceo asking president obama if he'd like a cameo role in "house of cards." the president did not offer a firm yes or no but joked he wished things in washington worked more like they did on that show. plus, comedian and tv host steve harvey interviewed president obama at the white house this week after getting the interview out of the way, harvey suggested they surprise a tour group to spread some christmas cheer. >> you got a ears just like me. >> yeah. i was going to say that. >> that's good, man. that gives you some special
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power. you know steve harvey? don't worry about it. >> i've never been ignored these many times ever. >> fun surprise for those kids, right? that's going to wrap things up for me. see you back here tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. eastern time. don't go anywhere. "now" with alex wagner comes your way next. ♪ [ female announcer ] let betty do the measuring and get a head start on delicious homemade cookies. visit bettycrockercookies.com for fun holiday ideas. betty crocker cookie mix. just pour, mix...love.
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i have a cold with this annoying runny nose. [ sniffles ] i better take something. [ male announcer ] dayquil cold and flu doesn't treat all that. it doesn't? [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus fights your worst cold symptoms plus has a fast-acting antihistamine. oh, what a relief it is! a sleigh full of toys and a looming debt ceiling fight too. old st. nick has a budget, but what else has he got in his sack? it's wednesday, december 18th, and this is "now." the senate will pass a two-year budget deal this afternoon, but there are few hopes that the bipartisan deal will be a har ven jer of a productive 2014. politico calls this the scrooge season and not because congress will wait until next year to
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resolve the issue of over a million americans losing their unemployment assistance. instead, it is because the senate, which has suddenly overtaken the house in terms of dysfunction, may remain in session through the holidays, fighting over a slate of president obama's nominees. and when they return in january, republicans plan to turn the debt ceiling extension into another battlefield. >> every time the president asks us to raise the debt ceiling is a good time to try to achieve something important for the country. the debt ceiling legislation is a time that brings us all together and gets the president's attention. i can't imagine it being done clean. we'll have to see what the house insists on adding to it as a condition for passing it. >> brings us all together in fractious fighting. paul ryan has one idea, the keystone pipeline. so does ron johnson. tax reform and, quote, freedom in health

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